Playing Britney Spears was a ‘traumatic’ experience, says actress who stars in upcoming biopic

It’s not easy being Britney Spears. So says Australian actress Natasha Bassett, who plays the pop icon in an upcoming movie on the Lifetime channel — and found it a harrowing experience. “It was extremely traumatic,” the 23-year-old beauty says of filming the no-holds-barred biopic, which depicts the highs and lows of Britney’s career, and the struggles that propelled her slip from queen of pop to a drug- and drink-addled trainwreck. “It was traumatic having to experience through my eyes what she experienced,” Bassett says. Speaking about the role at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards in Los Angeles, Bassett said she grew up listening to Spears, but knew little of the singer’s past before she delved into the role. Depicting Spears’ two failed marriages, depression, drug battles and loss of custody of her children gave her “a lot more empathy for what she went through,” says Bassett. “I mean, she’s not like anybody else. Her entire life, she’s been chased by paparazzi and she’s constantly being scrutinized and in the public eye, so it’s not normal. “I really appreciated how strong she is,” Bassett added. “Emotionally, the way she got through the constant pressures that she was faced with is admirable.” The movie — “Britney Ever After,” premiering Feb. 18 — will feature the shocking moment when Spears shaved her head bald in the midst of her infamous 2007 meltdown. Bassett didn’t have to resort to shearing her own locks: “It was all prosthetics,” she says. Nor did she have to learn to sing. “I might have lip-synched,” she giggled. When asked if that was a tribute to Spears, who famously mimes most of her Las Vegas residency show “Piece Of Me,” Natasha laughed: “I think she does sing a bit. I saw her in Vegas Continue Reading

SEE IT: Britney Spears shaves her head, marries Kevin Federline in first trailer for Lifetime’s ‘Britney Ever After’

Oops, she did it again. Britney Spears is re-living some of her worst life decisions in the first trailer for Lifetime’s “Britney Ever After.” Australian actress Natasha Bassett will play the pop star in the upcoming biopic — from the top of the charts to her lowest moments. “I’m not going to say I was fine, because I wasn’t,” Spears says in a voiceover in the 30-second trailer. The quick video covers some of Spears’ biggest moments, including shaving her head in a 2007 meltdown and her two-year marriage to Kevin Federline (Clayton Chitty). “Everything is just kind of this blur, you know, until you hit rock-bottom,” Spears says. “I want to be strong for my fans – they’re what keeps me going.” The movie also stars Peter Benson as Larry Rudolph, Nicole Oliver as Lynne Spears, Nathan Keyes as Justin Timberlake and Jillian Walchuck as Paris Hilton. “Britney Ever After” premieres Feb. 18 on Lifetime. Continue Reading

Britney Spears fans slam unofficial Lifetime biopic about the pop star

Tuning in to Lifetime's unofficial Britney Spears biopic proved to be a toxic experience for many viewers. The network's TV movie "Britney Ever After" premiered Saturday evening and was immediately panned by Spear's fans — with many complaining of unrealistic portrayals and blatant inaccuracies. For one, the documentary style-special didn't feature any of Spears' real music, since the "Toxic" singer refused to give her blessing to the movie. Many argued that actress Natasha Bassett — who starred as Spears — looked nothing like the pop star. And there was no proof that several scenes — including an alleged dance-off between Spears and her ex Justin Timberlake at a nightclub — ever actually happened. "Who lit this movie #britneyeverafter and why does he hate women?" tweeted actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, who live-tweeted throughout the movie. In a separate post, Gellar put down the film even further by using the hashtag #OppositeofOscar. Other grievances from fans included the fact that her classic hot pink wig was rendered blue in the movie, and that her infamous denim dress at the 2002 American Music Awards was turned into a pantsuit. "BRITNEY WORE A DENIM DRESS NOT A DENIM PANTSUIT I CANT TAKE THE HISTORICAL INACCURACY," tweeted one fuming viewer. The biopic focused mostly on Spears' tumultuous downturn during the mid-2000s more than on her rise to fame, success within the industry or post-breakdown accomplishments. It also suggested that an alleged sex tape that Spears once made with Timberlake was stolen — despite the fact that such an anecdote had never been told before, or that little evidence exists that a video was ever made. Ultimately, fans were displeased with the entire production overall. "As a huge britney spears fangirl from way back in the day, this lifetime movie is making me Continue Reading

Britney Spears did not give Lifetime her blessing to make biopic

This is a story about a girl named Britney Spears. A movie following all the ups and downs of the pop star's life is in the works at Lifetime, the network announced to the Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. However, Spears wants nothing to do with the film. "Britney Spears will not be contributing in any way, shape or form to the Lifetime biopic, nor does it have her blessing," a rep told Us Weekly. The two-hour TV movie will follow the 34-year-old "Lucky" singer's rise from small-town Louisiana girl to Mouseketeer and eventual pop sensation. Her unlucky love life is also set to be depicted, which includes her rocky romance with heartthrob Justin Timberlake, her short-lived marriage to friend, Jason Alexander and doomed nuptials to back-up dancer, Kevin Federline. The film is described by the network as a "tumultuous true story" and will cover Spears' troubled times such as her wild paparazzi attack, her infamous head-shaving and her unforgettable flop of a performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. The downfall led Spears to temporally lose custody of her two sons and she was hospitalized and placed under the care of her father. She epically returned to the spotlight a year later to rebuild her career and released her latest and aptly-titled album, "Glory" on Friday. The Lifetime announcement comes during an already grand week for the "Toxic" crooner. Fresh of the debut of her ninth album, the singer will make her long-awaited return to the VMAs on Sunday night. "Britney" is slated for a 2017 premiere and is set to begin production on Sept. 19 in Vancouver. Continue Reading

Lifetime presents a biopic of a singer who had it all, ‘Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B’

In the summer of 2001, movie producer Debra Martin Chase met Aaliyah for tea. “It was right here in the Peninsula in Beverly Hills,” recalls Chase, who was developing the film “Sparkle” as a potential star vehicle for the 22-year-old singer/actress. “We had a wonderful time,” says Chase. “She was a great, great young woman.” Alas, plans for “Sparkle,” and untold other future projects, vanished a month later, when Aaliyah and several members of her entourage were killed in the fiery crash of a light airplane as it took off from the Bahamas. So now, 13 years later, Chase has become one of the executive producers of a different movie: a biopic on Aaliyah’s short, rich and eventful life. “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” premieres Saturday night at 8 on Lifetime. Alexandra Shipp, who had just turned 10 when Aaliyah died, plays the title role. Except for one impulsive moment of teenage rebellion when she was 15, the Aaliyah of this film is every bit as charming and poised as the young woman Chase remembers from tea at the Peninsula. “I didn’t personally know her well,” says Chase. “But by all accounts she had it together. Everyone who knew her talks about how impressive she was. “There’s no doubt in my mind she would have become a major star. She could sing, she could act, she could dance. She had it all.” In an age when the spotlight so often swings to the wild-child likes of Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes or Lindsay Lohan, it’s tempting to ask whether there’s a market for a biopic on someone who was focused, composed, disciplined and, frankly, kind of wholesome. “Lifetime thinks so,” says Chase with a laugh. “No, I think people like to be inspired. Go back to Frank Capra. I think wish fulfillment and aspirational movies will always have a place.” Continue Reading

Simon Cowell paying Britney $15 mil? Why we reward celebrities’ bad behavior

Even measured against our most cynical expectations for celebrity misbehavior, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen represent a gold standard. And the same cynics might say that for all three, it seems to be paying well. Simon Cowell admitted this week that yeah, he thinks Spears would be a great fit for one of those two big old empty judge’s chairs on “The X Factor” this fall. He didn’t address the specific reports he had offered Britney $15 million to take the seat. But clearly the conversation is underway, and it’s safe to assume the check, which Simon has the authority to cut, would be large. It’s possible that by the time you read this, she will have already signed up — and even if she hasn’t, Simon has reminded us that just floating her name gets our collective ears perked up. Meanwhile, Lifetime this week confirmed that Lohan, despite another after-hours incident, remains its choice to play Elizabeth Taylor in the movie “Liz and Dick.” And we’re less than 10 weeks from the June 28 premiere of “Anger Management,” the new FX sitcom that stars Charlie Sheen. Given most of the headlines that Spears, Lohan and Sheen have generated in recent years, some might ask a question more commonly associated with parents of disobedient adolescents. Are we, as child psychologists say, “rewarding the behavior”? Well, duh. That’s exactly what we’re doing. This is the free market of entertainment at its purest, selling the public a chance to see performers whose misdeeds have put them even more prominently into our celebrity gossip conversation. In one sense, it doesn’t matter at all that Spears went through months when she was chopping off her hair, smashing car windows, marrying strangers and generally acting so disconnected that a court decided she couldn’t be trusted to handle her own money. It doesn’t matter Continue Reading

Label giving up on getting Britney Spears to promote album

Jive Records is throwing in the towel because Britney Spears can't "gimme more." The singer's label has officially given up on getting the troubled pop tart more involved in marketing her own album, "Blackout," sources tell us. There are no plans for a tour, for example - highly unusual for a star who once cranked out hits like widgets and is riding high on the charts with her single "Gimme More." "They can't get Britney to do anything!" said a source close to the label and Spears. "They did get her to do one photo-shoot for some promotional materials, but beyond that, they can't trust her to even show up. This album could've been so much bigger with Britney involved. "This is the one opportunity they have to try and sell a million records. They were forced to [go on with] their marketing plan" — without her. "They don't feel they need her if she's going to keep blowing them off. She's already on the cover of every gossip magazine, and she's on Perez Hilton nearly all day, every day for her antics. "Jive is just hoping to continue riding the Britney wave. The label can't afford to waste their money hoping to get some of her time to help promote this. She's too busy [hanging out] in a club somewhere." It must be frustrating for the label, since "Gimme More" skyrocketed to No. 1 on iTunes. Critics praised some of the cuts — though it might be that anyone, and not just Brit, could shoot to the top with music produced and mixed by the Neptunes, Bloodshy and Nate (Danja) Hills.A Jive spokeswoman told us: "We absolutely stand behind Britney." Still, it raises the question: Doesn't Spears want to make money anymore? With her worth estimated at $100 million this year, maybe not. She may not even care.In her recent child custody case, L.A. Court Commissioner Scott M. Gordon called the 25-year-old singer a "habitual drug and alcohol user" and ordered her to undergo random drug-testing twice a week. Just yesterday, Gordon ruled that Britney's Continue Reading

She’s still got it

Britney Spears may well have found her stint in rehab taxing, but her biggest challenge lies ahead: Settling her divorce from Kevin Federline and fighting the complex custody battle over their sons. There's good news for the troubled pop tart. With an estimated net worth of $100 million, Britney can easily afford the $48,000 bill for her month-long stay at one of the nation's poshest rehab centers. Though her fortune will be slightly dented by an expected seven-figure payoff to Federline, she'll still have enough to cover almost a lifetime of treatment at the $1,600-a-night Promises Center in Malibu, Calif. But the star - who not too long ago was on top of the music world - would be wise not to hang up her microphone for too long. "The best thing Britney can do right now is take some time away for herself and make a great record," says Joe Levy, executive editor of Rolling Stone magazine. "The old saw is that she's just one hit away from a comeback. Side by side is the saying that there's no such thing as bad publicity." The drop in sales of her previous albums doesn't necessarily mean she has fallen from favor, because record sales have declined across the board, says Levy. "I think it is still possible for her to run her business." And what a business it is. Divided into a string of separate companies, such as Britney Touring, One More Time Music, Fairy Zone Productions and Britney Online, it's more of a corporation. "She's a very wealthy woman and protected by an ironclad prenuptial agreement," says financial expert Lea Goldman, associate editor of Forbes magazine, which recently ranked Spears as the 12th-richest woman in entertainment. Fortunately for Spears, her income will continue to grow, whether she goes back to work or sits on her butt. Under the terms of her 2005 perfume contract with Elizabeth Arden, she gets a guaranteed sum of $2.54 million this year, even if, as Goldman predicts, sales fail to meet expectations. "Midnight Continue Reading

GATECRASHER. K-Fed had a Vegas following

Kevin Federline (l.) was being tailed in the final weeks of his marriage to Britney Spears to investigate how close he had become to certain Las Vegas call girls, according to a source. Of interest was a specific weekend not long before his wife filed for divorce on Nov. 7. But it seems K-Fed's stalkers didn't get what they were looking for. "Prostitution is legal in Nevada, so it's no big deal to say he was 'partying' with them at a club," says one night crawler. "Also, there's no way to prove he even knows what they do for a living. " The investigator was paid for by a celebrity mag, adds the snitch. Federline's reps did not comment. Abbie's in denial mode Aussie actress Abbie Cornish (l.) has spoken for the first time about the Ryan Phillippe-Reese Witherspoon split, insisting that she is not the other woman. "We were very good friends and we did spend a lot of time together, yeah," Cornish admits. "But we're friends and that's it," Cornish tells Star magazine. She and Phillippe co-star in the upcoming film "Stop Loss. " Rex gets into a spat in Savannah Old-school Hollywood smackdown! Rex Reed was recently accosted after talking about the ongoing feud between Golden Age film stars Olivia de Havilland, 90, and her 89-year-old kid sister, Joan Fontaine. At the Savannah Film Festival, which was honoring him with a lifetime achievement award, the veteran critic recounted some choice stories about Olivia as told by his friend Joan. Boyfriend-poaching figured prominently. But producer David (son of Alan) Ladd was in "Team de Havilland" mode later at the Festival bar. "Don't you talk about Olivia like that again," Ladd said. "Joan Fontaine is a c-! " Reed tells me: "That is exactly what the gentleman said. ... But he turned quite friendly, and it wasn't a scene or anything. " Ladd himself denies dropping the c-bomb. "I simply told Mr. Reed I have known Ms. De Havilland for a very long time and very well and have never heard Continue Reading

BRITNEY BUSTS OUT. Spears sends hubby K-Fed packing it’s divorce!

Britney Spears cast her vote yesterday and elected to remove K-Fed from her life. After two years and one month of marriage to former backup dancer and serial impregnator Kevin Federline, Spears, 24, has filed for divorce in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. But insiders say Kevin, 28, might still be in the dark. "He's been going on like normal, talking about his relationship and Britney," a friend of Kevin's told Life & Style magazine, "but she wasn't going on anymore! They fought all week in New York. ... No one knew about the divorce. Not even Kevin. It's very possible he was flying when she filed!" In her petition, Spears asks for both legal and physical custody of the couple's two sons, 1-year-old Sean Preston and 2-month-old Jayden James. Federline would get visitation rights. Sources told the couple has an ironclad prenup, and that Spears is waiving her right to spousal support. Sick of doling out money to Kevin, she has also asked that the judge make each party pay their own attorney's fees. Spears certainly isn't sparing the bucks when it comes to her representation. She has hired powerhouse celebrity divorce lawyer Laura Wasser, whose client roster includes Angelina Jolie, Nick Lachey and Kiefer Sutherland. Wasser could not be reached for comment. Spears' rep, Leslie Sloane Zelnik, did not return calls. The date of separation was listed as Monday, the same night that Britney made a surprise appearance on "The David Letterman Show," looking gorgeous and slim with a perky new bob haircut and a naked wedding-ring finger. Eat your heart out, Kev. The past week's events helped fuel speculation that the famous couple was finally on the outs. Crowds waited in vain for Spears to arrive at her hubby's album release party at Stereo on Friday, but Kev just hunkered down in a booth with his buddies, eventually giving an impromptu performance to a nonplussed audience. Despite increased security in Continue Reading